Need More Knitting Time?

Get a stapedectomy. This ingenious operation will leave you flat on your back, with all the normal dexterity in your upper limbs, alert enough to follow an intermediate-level knitting pattern, and has the added bonus of preventing further ossification of the bones in your ear, thereby improving your hearing! The strong of stomach can view step-by-step illustrations here.

Oh–did I mention that you won’t be able to move without experiencing extreme dizziness for a solid five days, that you won’t be able to hear out of the ear in question for the same amount of time, and that you will consume more Advil in those five days than you did in the past five years? Minor details.

Yes, this is how I have spent my post-Christmas break. I have torn through about four solid books and completed one and a half sides of this:

And still managed to fit in time to be a bit bored.

Every project I embark on has a Story. Empirical evidence gathered from other blogs suggests that this holds true for many knitters. Except Brooklyn Tweed, who seems to just bang out masterpieces, without patterns and without batting an eye, at the speed of light. But I digress. I fell in love with the pattern–Pleated Skirt by Blue Sky Alpaca–first, after seeing an ad in Interweave Knits. It’s clean, classic, and knit in one color. I wanted the pattern, I needed the pattern, I had to have the pattern for that skirt. My mania was such that I committed my first act of online shopping to procure it.

Yes, the pattern was simple. The sizing was a bit wonky–cast on the same number of stitches for Extra Small, Small, and Medium, and vary needle size to vary the gauge and therefore the fit. And another factor: there were two lengths. But it was still Quite Simple, and I was still going to knit it.

In my local yarn store, while getting advice on yarn amounts for Velma (this all went down last spring), I showed the pattern to an Experienced Knitter. I had discovered that Blue Sky Alpaca yarn is not sold anywhere nearby, and to put it mildly, I have had some unpleasant experiences with yarn substitutions. This Experienced Knitter was only too happy to offer me advice on yarn substitution, but she took exception to the pattern. First was the way different sizes were achieved, second was the fact that it was a pleated skirt. Some negative attributes were ascribed to alpaca yarn along the way. She seemed to have quite a vendetta against pleats (perhaps a project had once gone awry for her), and did all she could to dissuade me from knitting this pattern without actually crying out “Don’t knit this abhorrent object!”

A note: Empowerment and diligence are both good qualities. In moderation. In larger qualities, they are expressed by negatively-shaded adjectives such as headstrong, mule-stubborn, obstinate, refractory, etc. And then there are those horribly self-righteous phrases, “pride comes before a fall”, and “I told you so.” I mention these things to explain why, after a knitter with honorable intentions, and whose years of experience far outweigh my own, offered me myriad reasons why knitting this skirt was without a doubt a bad idea, I made up my mind that I was going to knit this pattern, and I was going to make it WORK.

I bring this up to give you all ample time to get your popcorn. Nine times out of ten, this plot line ends with a project crashing and burning, and I’m sure the aforementioned Experienced Knitter would like to be on hand for the climax.

I found the yarn called for in the pattern at the same store I got the Calmer (ooh–that could be a sign!), and last Friday, I began. Here’s where I currently stand:

Add that with the side photographed beneath the pattern, and you get three quarters of a skirt. However, this is where we reach the first plot wrinkle. The first side is knitted in one length. The second, incomplete side is knitted in another. Pause to ponder the wisdom of choosing your desired final dimensions before embarking on a project.

So the suspense builds. I have completed half a side in the correct measurements without a hitch, I have established that I will have plenty of yarn to finish the project. But–I have to rip side 1 back to the first 2 inches to adjust the length. Will I complete it successfully? What’s more, will I complete it with my sanity, or will the curtain fall on a gibbering mess entangled in yards of frazzled, twice-ripped alpaca?

We will return to our presentation after a knit break.

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